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Research shows that polyamorous relationships can have as many benefits as monogamous relationships


Credit: Routledge

Polygamists face stigma and discrimination in their daily lives, yet research shows that having a romantic relationship with more than one person at a time may provide emotional and physical benefits to all parties.

Monogamy is frequently portrayed as the ideal form of romantic love in many modern societies. From the stories we read as children, to the movies and books we consume as adults – we’re told that to achieve happiness, we need to find the one true soulmate we share the rest of our lives with.

At the same time, states and governments offer financial, legal, and social incentives to couples. Meanwhile, men and women who deviate from these monogamous rules are treated as outcasts and publicly shamed.

However, despite this, polyamorous relationships are on the rise. It is estimated that between 4% and 5% of the US population are currently involved in consensual, non-monogamous relationships.

Furthermore, a study in 2010 found that nearly one in every 500 adults in the United States identified as polyamorous.

Time for a fix?

An increasing number of legal and policy scholars are advocating reforms to existing family laws so that they can recognize the wide variety of intimate personal relationships in which human beings can thrive.

“Polyrates run the risk of being expelled, denied housing or citizenship, or having their children taken away from them because of their polyamorous identities and lifestyles,” says Justin Clardy, a professor of philosophy at Santa Clara University.

“However, in many cases, polyamorous relationships are more durable than monogamous relationships, because their flexibility allows them to accommodate changing needs over time in a way that monogamous relationships do not.”

Professor Clardy has devoted his academic career to studying the ethics of non-monogamous relationship patterns and the unfair political consequences faced by singles.

In his first book, Why is it okay not to be monogamousClardy summarizes the main arguments commonly put forth in support of monogamy. Then he exposes the falsity of each one with a thorough research.

Moral debate

For example, there is a theory that humans evolved to be monogamous because babies require more care, since they are born at a younger gestational age than other mammals.

Professor Clardy explains, “So monogamy is seen as the ‘natural’ order of things. However, many monogamous homosexual and heterosexual couples either do not wish or cannot have children, yet this does not preclude them from being able to marry.” And enjoy the rights and privileges that come with marriage.

“Others may see monogamy as a moral God-given command, however, so does this mean that atheists and agnostics are ineligible for romantic love, even if they find themselves in happy, healthy, fulfilling monogamous romantic relationships?”

Refocus attention

One of the most common arguments against polygamy is that it incites painful feelings of jealousy, but monogamous couples experience these feelings, too. Indeed, Clardy argues that in many cases vulnerability, possessiveness, and a sense of entitlement to another person’s love are at the core of jealousy and then we care to acknowledge it.

Clardy argues that polyamory, on the other hand, can benefit relationships by refocusing our attention on how the partner performs in their other intimate relationships.

“When governed by mutual consent and understanding, polyamorous relationships can allow people to fully participate in each other’s happiness,” Clardy says.

“This can be achieved by confronting and managing one’s weaknesses, tempering our tendency to be jealous, and learning to pay attention to the prosperity of others.”

Different forms of the family

Some of the harshest critics of polygamy argue that non-monogamy harms the family unit, leading to divorce and the breakup of families. However, according to Clardy, polygamous families both exist and thrive, and such an arrangement can actually benefit the children.

“Raising a child may not require an entire village, but logically all things being equal, having more than one ‘father’ or ‘mother’ as a caregiver may be more appropriate to meet children’s needs, as children may be loved and raised in non-traditional families.” Clardy says.

“In fact, it may turn out that, on average, having more than two caregivers is the better parenting arrangement.”

Other unknown

In the final chapter of his book, Clardi argues that it is morally wrong to force monogamy on society, and calls for the state to support polygamous as well as monogamous relationships.

“Polygamous relationships need the support and protection that the state is uniquely capable of providing, and is in the best position to implement,” Clardy says.

“Just because a method of bonding may deviate from established social norms such as monogamy, does not mean that they do not have much value—morally, socially, or politically.”

more information:
Justin L. Clardi, Why It’s OK to Not Be Monogamous (2023). doi: 10.4324/9781003375036

Introduction by Taylor and Francis

the quote: Polyamorous Relationships Can Have As Many Benefits as Monogamous Relationships, Research Shows (2023, April 3) Retrieved April 3, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-04-polyamorous-relationships-benefits-monogamous .html

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